Second half adjustments lead to a Football Victory, 33-21

Bart Mazzara changed the energy of the game when he recovered a fumble on the opening drive of the second half. The play changed the momentum and helped the Bengals to a 33-21 victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Saturday afternoon.

The Bengals’ were down by two scores at the half but the star middle linebacker believed they that they were still in the game.

“I told them, ‘guys we if focus up and we do what were supposed to do then they can’t move the ball on us’,” Mazzara said. “We got to look each other in the eyes and say hey guys we are better than this team.”

Mazzara led the way with six tackles and two turnovers.

According to quarterback Kyle Hoppy, the success of Mazzara and the defense motivates the offense.

“He is like the quarterback of the defense,” Hoppy said. “That middle linebacker job is huge when they as a group can get each other going, especially Bart. He is one of the leaders in that category, when we (the offense) see them making it easier on us, we want to put up points.”

Hoppy went 22 of 34 for 263 yards and touchdown in the win. He also led the Bengals’ rushing attack with 46 yards.

The game swung in RPI’s favor early with a punt return to the Bengals’ 16-yard line by Connor Davies. The return lead to a 10-yard passing touchdown from Ed Trimpert to Keanton Ackermann. The touchdown put the Engineers up 7-0 with 11:33 left in the first quarter.

A balanced offensive attack kept the Engineers’ ahead in the first half. Running back Nick Cella capped off the team’s second drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to put the team up 14-0 with six minutes to go in the opening quarter.

On their next drive the Engineers started off on their own 7-yard line. The bad field position was coupled with penalties. The Bengals took advantage of a fumble in the end zone with a team safety, putting Buffalo State on the board late in the first quarter, cutting the RPI lead to 14-2.

RPI was driving down the field in the second quarter when Engineers’ Trimpert tossed one up in the end zone and Mazzara snatched it up for an interception to give the Bengals the ball.

Buffalo State took advantage of the the turnover, leading to an aggressive long drive that ended on a 12-yard touchdown run by Austin Neal to bring Buff State within a score.

Later in the half, Trimpert connected with Ackermann for another touchdown this time for 32 yards, putting the Engineers ahead 21-9.

The Bengals hurt themselves with six penalties for 70 yards in the first half.

Mazzara’s fumble recovery in the second half led to a 2-yard passing touchdown from Hoppy to Stephen Johnson bringing the Bengals back within a score of the Engineers, 21-16.

RPI was forced to punt and the Bengals offence drove down the field on the ground and through the air resulting in a 5-yard dash for a touchdown by Antoine Holloman putting the Bengals ahead for the first time in the game, 23-21.

At the start of the fourth quarter Mazzara forced a fumble that was recovered by Darren Wesley setting up the offence on the RPI 39 yard line. Hoppy completed a 38-yard pass on the Bengals’ first offensive play in the fourth quarter. It set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Neal, padding Buffalo State’s lead to 30-21.

Justin Simoncelli hit a 22-yard field goal to extend the Bengal lead to 33-21.

Tiquan Simpkins ended the game with an interception with 1:25 remaining in the game.

Buffalo State head coach Jerry Boyes places the turnover battle as a high priority.

“Turnovers are the number one statistic that results to the outcome of the game. These statistics whether they are good or bad, I don’t pay attention to those things besides turnovers,” Boyes said as he smacked the sheet of statistics on the table with confidence. “The big thing that leads to the scoreboard is turnovers.”

The win gives the Bengals a 3-0 start, the first since 1999.

Mazzara has a special feeling about this Buffalo State football team.

“I’ve been playing football since I was nine years old and I’ve never felt this way about a team ever,” Mazzara stated. “What we have it’s just so special from the coaching staff to all the players we are like a family. We are so close and we are so connected there is no segregation and we are all together”

The Bengals defense held RPI to 69 yards in the second half, which serves as a reflection of the defense in the second half of play.

Next week, Buffalo State will head to Alfred University 1 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.